- Bold initiatives from world leaders marked the COP-28 summit debut and calls for unity among nations.
- The COP-27 President Sameh Shoukry officially handed over the mantle to the COP-28 President Dr. Sultan Al-Jaber.
- Since the Paris Agreement in 2015, subsequent climate conferences have centered on implementing its main objective, ‘curbing global temperature rise’.
World government leaders, influential climate enthusiasts and representatives from civil societies are converging in Abu Dhabi, Dubai from November 30 for the commencement of the United Nations Annual Climate Change Conference, COP-28.
This is the 28th Conference of Parties (COP) on Climate Change, and it comes at a time when the world is grappling with global warming, with reports released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warning of concern.
The COP-27 President Sameh Shoukry officially handed over the mantle to the COP-28 President Dr. Sultan Al-Jaber.
On the first day, he operationalized a Loss and Damage Fund that will assist developing countries vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
This nearly two-week summit, which will culminate on December 12, aims to tackle urgent issues amid what experts label a “rapidly accelerating climate crisis”.
Bold initiatives from world leaders marked the COP-28 summit debut and calls for unity among nations.
In his maiden speech, Al-Jaber, set to lead the 2023 climate change conversation, rallied stakeholders to make bold decisions during the Global Stocktake and prioritize meeting their end of the deal in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
“Let’s put nature, lives, and livelihoods at the core of our national plans. Let’s finally face the issues that are critical to adaptation, like water, food, agriculture and health,” he said.
The Global Stocktake is a new term in the Conference of Parties where countries will, for the first time, assess how far off-track they are to curb global warming.
The new Conference president also called on the heads of state and climate enthusiasts present to bridge the global adaptation finance gap.
He further highlighted efforts in place in his leadership to zero in on fossil fuel production while decarbonizing the existing energy system.
“Let history reflect the fact that this is the presidency that made a bold choice to proactively engage with oil and gas companies. Most of these fossil fuel companies are committing to zeroing out methane emissions by 2030 for the first time,” stated the President.
Loss and damage fund
The finalization and operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund was seen as a major first-day breakthrough at the climate conference.
According to Al Jaber, this fund, established last year, will be set to compensate nations coping with loss and Damage as a result of climate change.
“The hard work of many people over many years has been delivered in Dubai.
The speed at which the world came together to get this fund operationalized within one year since Parties agreed to it in Sharm El-Sheikh is unprecedented,” he acknowledged the great win.
In the Adaptation Gap Report released early this month by the United Nations an estimated $387 billion will be needed annually if developing countries are to adapt to climate-driven changes.
Many nations pledged to contribute to this fund, with notable and generous pledges coming from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Germany, both vowing to give $100 million.
Africa’s climate battlefront
With the COP28 underway, Africa finds itself in the throes of some of the deadliest consequences of a warming planet.
Despite contributing less than 5 percent of global emissions, Africa bears a disproportionate burden of climate change impacts, turning the fight against these effects into a matter of survival.
The Horn of Africa, reeling from a recent drought, is now grappling with deadly floods, causing mass displacements from Somalia to Kenya, which is also dealing with a hit by heavy rains.
Earlier this year, Cyclone Freddy, the longest-running tropical storm, claimed over 1,000 lives in Southern Africa.
Amid these crises, the African Group of Negotiators (AGN), currently led by Zambia, took steps to represent the continent at COP28.
As we battle fossil fuel production, some African climate experts and activists say all fossil production should be abandoned as there is no evidence that oil and gas-rich nations like Nigeria have reinvested oil wealth in renewables or even in development, but a strong pushback by the European Union has been witnessed.
Former African Union climate advisor Faten Aggad stated that this controversy positions the continent between a hard place and a rock.
“Both sides of the argument are actually right; Africa is vulnerable when oil prices crash and that confirms what the activists are saying and whether we like it or not industry and trade are moving to renewables with major economies launching trade measures that threaten African countries,” she commented.
Aggad also referred to the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, which will see importers of goods taxed based on the amount of CO2 emitted during their production.
“We are being sold this dream of renewables but we barely have any investments in it, gas is the only option available to Africa,” stated Aggad.
Nonetheless, the AGN at COP-28 will propose that developed countries stop investing in fossil fuel projects by 2030 and let developing nations fill that gap.
Kenya at COP-28
Kenya’s President, William Ruto, an African climate advocate, will be joining other 100 heads of state in Abu Dhabi to advocate for Kenya and Africa’s climate agenda in his capacity as the chair of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC).
In a statement by the State House spokesperson Hussein Mohammed, Ruto plans to stress action for a transformative and sustainable climate urgently needed to change the world’s current trend.
“Leveraging COP-28, President Ruto aims to enhance collaboration, share best practices, and advance Africa and Kenya’s priorities on the global climate agenda,” the statement read.
Ruto will also give an address on behalf of Africa, highlighting the continent’s priorities while building on the historic African Leaders Nairobi Declaration adopted at the inaugural Africa Climate Summit held in Nairobi in September 2023.
He will participate in the summit till December 2, when he will jet back to the country.
Why is COP-28 important?
Since the Paris Agreement in 2015, subsequent climate conferences have centered on implementing its main objective, ‘curbing global temperature rise’.
These gatherings revealed the blueprint shifted focus to implementation, and COP28 is poised to be a turning point.
Unlike other climate summits, COP28 aims not only to agree on ‘WHAT’ stronger climate actions are needed but also to showcase ‘HOW’ these actions will be executed.
The summit has already proved to be a game changer, with the first global stocktake initiated at COP26 reaching finalization.
COP28 holds immense significance as a decisive moment, almost eight years post-Paris Agreement adoption and halfway through the 2030 Agenda.
Despite UN reports indicating a deviation from Paris goals, there is hope for the world as governments at COP-28 will chart a course for accelerated climate action.
In 2020, countries acted on national climate action plans, focusing on emission reduction and climate change adaptation.
As the next round of plans is slated for 2025, the outcome of the global stocktake could inspire countries to heighten ambition, setting new targets that go beyond existing policies and commitments.
With the fate of our planet hanging in the balance, COP28 becomes an opportunity to actively demonstrate how nations will contribute to the global fight against climate change.
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Around 70,000 participants attended the opening day of COP-28, including heads of state, government officials, industry leaders, academics, and the youth -it marked a crucial step toward collective action on climate change.